Nobody Saves the World is as charming and funny as Drinkbox Studios’ Guacamelee series. Bolstered by wonderfully challenging dungeons, Nobody’s core pillars of body swapping and ability customization go a long way to making this a memorable adventure, though a paper-thin world and underwhelming rewards keep this Nobody from being the best Somebody possible.
Within the amusing story, only one wizard has the power to shut down the disgusting fungal calamity that’s devastating the kingdom. Unfortunately, that guy is nowhere to be found. Instead, a pale, featureless wimp takes up that mage’s powerful wand. With it, this Nobody can shapeshift into useful forms like a bodybuilder, robot, or rat; each comes equipped with a special attack and passive ability, with more to be unlocked. I found the process of leveling up forms and gaining new ones to be a blast. Completing skin-specific challenges levels up that form, revealing more to unlock and becoming available as certain ranks are achieved.
Nobody Saves the World’s progression hinges on the constant loop of completing these quests. Every quest grants precious experience along with stars, a currency used only to unlock the five legendary dungeons. Unfortunately, those rewards are the same for any side missions I picked up from NPCs, making most quests feel like just another drop in the XP bucket. While constantly filling progress bars feeds a primal dopamine drip, I wish there were additional passive abilities or stat boosts as rewards to some of these activities. However, those are relegated to unsatisfying gold sinks from vendors.
Nobody’s top-down, hack-and-slash gameplay reminds me of an amalgamation of a classic 2D The Legend of Zelda and The Binding of Isaac. Some character forms at Nobody’s disposal wield more traditional weapons like swords and bows, while others use streams of lighting, tears from a slug, or a swift kick from a horse. It’s not afraid to tread well into goofy and mildly disturbing territory. Abilities from any form can be slotted in to be used by another, enabling an enjoyably deep system of mixing skills to mold the perfect dungeon slaying creature. I love how many quests rely on equipping non-native abilities. It forces me to switch up my strategy, sometimes at the cost of combat effectiveness, though it always teaches me a neat combo to use down the road. One of my favorite concoctions involves the Magician, who already swarms baddies with rabbits and tigers, and equipping him with an attack that infects enemies who join my army as zombies upon death.
The most fun and challenging action unfolds within the dungeons. These castles, beached sea creatures, UFOs, and corporate office buildings each house a few floors of monsters to slay. However, there’s a catch—every dungeon sports a dangerous modifier, which often upset my preferred loadout. You’ll usually be forced to build something special to clear them. For instance, one dungeon modifies damage from any attack to deal 9,999. Puzzling out solutions to survive through trial and error was fun since I had the right tools at my disposal; I just had to find which ones to use. The various modifiers made me appreciate the breadth of customization and experimentation for every form. Figuring out which build will work best is incredibly satisfying.
The world outside the dungeons, while beautifully drawn and visually diverse, lacks an exploratory pulse. The overworld rarely provides the same complexity or challenge I enjoy in the dungeons, save for a couple of guild quests scattered about. The world feels flat and uninteresting as a result. Traversal only gets as deep as using certain forms to swim through bodies of water or fit into some tight corridors. The excellent Jim Guthrie soundtrack does make everything more bearable, though.
Despite its minor shortcomings, Nobody Saves the World kept me enthralled from start to finish as I leveled my way through form ranks for the next body or ability to work with. It’s most fun when unleashing devious yet approachable combat scenarios, keeping me on my toes to find the best solution to survive. Thankfully, it gave me plenty of those unrelenting loops throughout, justifying the time to save this funny little world.